Ramadhan and People in Yemen [Archives:1999/50/Culture]

December 13 1999

Saleh Abdulbaqi
Cultural Editor

Our country celebrated, as any other Arab and Islamic country, the occasion of Ramadhan (the month of mercy and the month in which the Holy Qur’an was sent down as a mercy for people).
Ramadhan is an occasion during which all Moslems carry out the duty of fasting and almsgiving. We are following ‘Sonnah’ of our Prophet Mohammed( all peace be upon him).
Islam came to save the Islamic nation from depravity and to show the right path for people. It came to change people’s lives from illiteracy to religious sciences. Islam came to improve morality and the good behavior of people. It came to raise the way of living of Islamic nations. Ramadhan is a month of worship, mercy and almsgiving. People have to carry out their religious duties in this month. We have to repent for whatever we have done. We have to deal kindly with others and follow religious values. Moslems have to keep themselves away from sins.
Yemeni people are distinguished from any other Arab society during this month in their social, Islamic and humanitarian customs. These customs are a part of the daily life of Yemeni people. If we look to the last days of ‘Shab’an'(the month before Ramadhan), we find that the way of living of the Yemeni people takes on distinctive features. You can see people walking here and there to buy whatever they need during this month. They concentrate on beverages, vegetables, milk and other foodstuffs. As Moslems carry out their religious duty, the bond between God and them is strengthened.
On this occasion Yemeni people adopt social practices. On the eve of Ramadhan, people wait to see the crescent of Ramadhan to confirm the advent of the month. This phenomenon is found in all Arab and Islamic countries.
A committee has been formed in the Ministry of Justice to determine the first and last days of Ramadhan. This committee consists of scientists and jurists. As people hear the declaration of Ramadhan they became very happy. Then they begin to prepare for this month.
You can hear the voices of prayer and worship coming out from mosques in all cities of Yemen. You can also hear what we call ‘Adhan,’ which augments our religious feelings. ‘Adhan’ is used to call people to come to mosques to pray.
During the first night of Ramadhan, people celebrate until dawn. Each one goes to his friend to congratulate him on this religious occasion. On this night which is called ‘Qoratt Ramadhan,’ all people gather at mosques to recite the Holy Qur’an and to read Prophetic Hadiths until the advent of dawn. Then they take their meal which is called ‘Sahoor.’ This meal consists of bread, boiled milk and ghee. All these ingredients are put inside a vessel and mixed together. Then people go to bed.
In the beginning of Ramadhan tranquility reigns throughout cities. People’s faces are submissive and merciful. You can hear spiritual chants coming out from mosques. Mosques are full of those who come to recite the Holy Qur’an. Markets are full of people who come to buy different things, hawkers are spread in streetcorners, especially before the time of ‘Ifttar’ (the meal which people eat at the end of the day of fasting). All members of the family cooperate to prepare food and arrange homes for guests.
People go to mosques to pray after sunset, and then they come back to their homes to eat the main meal, ‘Ifttar.’